He whispered, "Don't cry, we'll meet by and by near the Heavenly Hall of Fame
He said I've got seasons tickets to watch the Angels now,
So that's just what I'm going to do
He said well you the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs,
So it's me that feels sorry for you!
—"A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" by the late Steve Goodman
In what is perhaps the greatest sports song ever written—"A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request"—the late Steve Goodman was wise beyond his Cubs fan years.
He knew the far-reaching connections and the long suffering of Cubs fans. He sang of raising up “a young boy's hopes” and crushing them “year after year after year...after year, after year, after year, after year, after year.”
Many young Cubs fans have grown up to be old Cubs fans, seemingly with nothing to show for it but a badge of honor for loyally supporting an organization that hasn’t brought them a championship.
But Cubs fans, as a Red Sox fan, I’ve seen what lies just over the other side of the hill, just beyond your sight: loss of life for some of the longest of the long sufferers.
When the Red Sox completed their sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 27, 2004 to win their first World Series in 86 years, the victory was the culmination of so many false hopes borne by so many for so long. It was the oldest of the long sufferers for whom it held the greatest impact.
Case in point: Walter "Salty" Brine, 86, a Rhode Island icon and veteran TV and radio broadcaster, died Nov. 2, 2004 at his Rhode Island home, less than a week after the Red Sox won the World Series.
Brine was born just outside Boston in 1918—the year the Red Sox had last won the World Series.
I don’t know if Salty suffered a heart attack, but his wife was quoted after his passing as saying that he was thrilled when the Red Sox won the World Series.
I say Salty just let go, said goodbye to the world, and made off for those Fenway Park bleachers in Heaven (I know, I know, the Fenway bleachers are Heaven.)
The impossible Red Sox won the World Series and there was nothing left to live for.
I’m sure if you checked the obituary listings around New England—especially Massachusetts—in the days following the 2004 World Series, you’d find that hordes of old-time Red Sox fans cashed it in.
So you younger Cubs fans need to ask yourselves which you'd prefer to have: your Cubs win a World Series or more years with your favorite elders?
I see. Well, sorry old-timers, but you—more than anyone—know the score.